I just returned from celebrating my 28th birthday in Oahu…five days of beach, drinks and adventure! When booking the trip, the boy and I had to decide between staying in Waikiki or the North Shore. Waikiki is noted for restaurants, shopping, nightlife and most of all, tourists. We picked the North Shore because it’s more remote; our resort is the only place to stay in the area, so there are less people and more landscape, which is what I really wanted in a Hawaiian vacation!
So first, the food. Being in a more remote area definitely had its advantages, but food wasn’t always one of them. The first morning, two young stoner surfers working at the hotel recommended Tita’s Grill for breakfast. The boy loved his Portuguese sausage breakfast sandwich, but my french toast was literally swimming in butter. Eh…no thanks. That same day, we picked up soy milk and bananas (the boy brought a box of Kashi cereal in his luggage), and we ate breakfast on our balcony for the rest of the trip. Honestly? It was delicious (with a beautiful view to boot!).
I was surprised to not see more sushi, but there was lots of fresh fish on every menu. I ate ahi tuna literally every other day! Not surprisingly, the fish dishes were all among the best meals eaten on the island, including spicy tuna rolls at Nobu (in Waikiki of course), Cajun seared tuna, and macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi.
We also indulged with lots of fun drinks, including my all time favorite vacation order, the pina colada. Seriously, no warm weather trip is complete without one. Every drink in Hawaii gets a pineapple slice and umbrella!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the pina colada was one-upped by a drink from the Hang Ten bar at our hotel. I first ordered a Monkey’s Lunch to enjoy during a late night hot tub soak (side note, I really want a hot tub one day!). It was so good, I had to get it again to sip during a relaxing afternoon on the beach. This drink was made with Bailey’s, Kahlua and fresh bananas, and tasted just like a boozy chocolate banana milkshake.
On my actual birthday, we went to the beach in the morning (the boy surfed while I read), and then we went to a decently-reviewed brunch spot in Haleiwa. The place looked a little rundown on the inside, but you could bring in champagne from the store next door to make your own mimosas and the breakfast potatoes were excellent.
Here’s my potato spread, along with an egg and cheese English muffin sandwich with avocado, sprouts and tomato.
Our particular spot on the island was incredibly windy, so every day we ventured out to explore Oahu. On my birthday though, we came back to the resort for a low-key afternoon and dinner at the hotel. For some reason, half the places in Haleiwa are closed on Sundays! We relied on Yelp a lot during this trip, and most of the top-reviewed places — and even the ubiquitous nice restaurant in our hotel — were shut down for the night. We ended up taking a chance on the Italian place but the food wasn’t very good. We ordered margarita pizza and pasta with vodka sauce, two dishes that have tasted significantly better coming out of my own kitchen. Even better, the boy tried to arrange a special candle-lit slice of chocolate cake at the end of the meal and the restaurant totally dropped the ball…bringing the bill, but no dessert!
But the cake mishap was completely turned around by do-it-yourself s’mores outside by the bar. Such a delicious birthday treat! We shared the fire pit with another family, and I think we made the kiddos very jealous.
The best dessert of the trip though was from Bubbies. Everyone claims shave ice king in Hawaii, but I’m more of an ice cream girl myself. I tried to keep it authentic by ordering a macadamia nut cone, but the boy beat me out with his mochi order. The ice cream was so delicious, with big pieces of macadamia nut. We were both fans! However, the boy checked Yelp for mochi suggestions and ended up with flavors like lychee and green tea, which he didn’t enjoy. Lucky for me, because I loved them!
We loved Bubbies so much that we went back for round two. I seriously can’t get the green tea mochi out of my head. So cold, creamy, and chewy all at the same time.
On our last full day in Hawaii, we ended up on a series of adventures with a lunch stop in Kailua. We were both incredibly hungry by the time we found someplace to eat, but we still went to the place with the longest line because a crowd is a sure sign of good food, right? The service was slow, but the Nutella/banana/strawberry crepe made up it.
Overall, the food in the North Shore area was hit-or-miss. We had an equal number of pretty good and entirely forgettable meals. I didn’t eat any red meat or chicken on the trip, which absolutely limited my choices, so maybe I missed out on some excellent dishes? Hands down, our best meal was at Nobu in Waikiki, where good restaurants seemed a dime a dozen. But even with more diverse food options on the southern end of the island, I’d still pick our locale every time. I’ll be back later with more on our adventures…think sand, snorkel and a little rock climbing in the mix…!